Having found a good blend of local and overseas-based players, young Reggae Boyz Head coach John Wall will now be hoping his team can execute efficiently throughout their Concacaf Men’s Under-20 Championship campaign.

Wall and his 21-member team, which includes 10 overseas-based players, are scheduled to arrive in St Kitts and Nevis on Wednesday where they are expected to fine tune preparations for their Group F assignment against Martinique, Grenada and Bermuda.

The Swedish tactician named his final squad following two warm-up fixtures against their Trinidad and Tobago counterparts, and one against their senior club outfit in the twin island republic. They first lost 2-3 to Trinidad and Tobago, but won the second contest 3-1, with a goalless stalemate against the club team.

Despite those results, Wall in a recent interview, expressed pleasure with his team's display for the most part.

“Three games, three different outcomes, but mainly it (the camp) was just to build a solid foundation in our style of play, how the environment is, what we value and what it takes to play in the national setting. So, it gave me a lot of answers as to where the players are at present, and what needs to be assessed as we move forward towards St Kitts, so hopefully the process can continue ahead of the tournament,” Wall said.

With Jamaica failing to qualify for the Under-20 Men’s World Cup since Argentina 2001, the hope is that Wall’s side will better the country’s quarterfinals run from Honduras in 2022, to accomplish the qualifying feat.

The young Reggae Boyz will open against Martinique on Saturday, followed by a clash with Grenada on February 26, before closing against Bermuda two days later.

“For me it’s about controlling the controllable at this point in terms of what we can do,” Wall, who is assisted by former Reggae Boyz defender Rudolph Austin, declared.

“My hope and aspiration (for the tournament) lie in the work that we put down and not the talent that we assess, so we have to do the work consistently because ultimately what I care about is making sure that Jamaica prevails,” he added.

Only the group winners will progress to the next phase of the Concacaf Under-20 tournament to join the top teams –United States, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic –ranked in that order.

Squad -Akeem Bernard (Phoenix Academy), Joshua Grant (Real Salt Lake), Taywane Lynch (Mount Pleasant FA), Romain Blake (Chicago Fire), Michael Forbes (Cavalier), Adrian Reid Jr (Cavalier), Ronaldo Barrett (Cavalier), Ahir Dixon (Woodstock Academy), George Grant Jr (Middlesbrough FC), Kyron Horsley McKay (Millwall FC), Alexander Bicknell (Leixoes SC), Malachi Welch (Leyton Orient), Christopher Ainsworth (Cavalier), Brian Burkett (Dunbeholden FC), Dunsting Cohen (Vere United FC), Denzel McKenzie (Phoenix Academy), Robino Gordon (Phoenix Academy), Fabian Reynolds (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Ashton Gordon (Atlanta United), Nick Simmonds (Richmond Kickers), Tyrese Gowe (Dunbeholden FC)

Guyana moved to the summit of Group A, while Martinique earned their first victory, as the Concacaf Women's Gold Cup qualifiers resumed with three League B encounters on Wednesday.

Dominica also earned their first point of the season with a draw against Antigua and Barbuda. Four goalkeepers came away with a clean sheet, as stout-heart defending was the order of the third matchday.

Dominica vs. Antigua and Barbuda

Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda played to a scoreless draw at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in Saint Lucia.

The visitors were nearly off to a dream start in the fifth as a cross into the box was on its way into goal from Kevoncia James, but Dominica goalkeeper Celia Gregoire grasped the ball to deny the opportunity.

James set up another dangerous opportunity in the 12th, but Donesha Samuel did not get her preferred hit on the ball to keep the scoreline level.

Antigua and Barbuda goalkeeper Anik Jarvis left her line well in the 27th to deny Le-Myah Forde in a one-on-one situation. A minute later, Jarvis delivered back-to-back saves as Dominica could taste the lead.

Ajahna Martin then tested Gregoire from a distance in the 54th but the goalkeepers continued to star into the second half.

Jarvis registered 10 saves and the clean sheet to help Dominica earn its first point of the tournament. Gregoire ended the day with six saves to help Antigua and Barbuda gain an away point and stay within striking distance of first place.

 

Suriname vs. Guyana

Guyana earned a 1-0 victory over Suriname to move to the top of Group A at the Dr. Ir. Franklin Essed Stadium in Paramaribo.

Both goalkeepers were asked to make timely saves early on. Suriname's Mayra Tjin A Koeng made one of her three critical saves in the 18th, as Stefanie Kouzas looked primed to score from a through ball. 

On the other end, Chante Sandiford got her hands to divert a dangerous attempt in the 29th, in what was one of her four saves on the night.

Shanice Alferd broke through for the only goal of the night in the 41st by connecting with a cross into the box from Jalade Trim.

Suriname’s attacking front tried desperately to get the elusive equaliser in the second half, as Andaya Lantveld had one of her team’s best opportunities in the 55th. But Sandiford provided little room to work with and the woodwork did the rest.

The encounter was decided by small margins as Guyana and Suriname have now switched places in the standing, separated by goal difference.

 

Martinique vs. Nicaragua

Martinique registered their first victory of the tournament with a 1-0 result over Nicaragua at the Pierre-Aliker Municipal Stadium in Fort-de-France.

Maeva Salomon struck from distance in the opening minute of play and forced Nicaragua's goalkeeper Angela Gutierrez to get a hand on the ball which bounced off the woodwork.

Mylaine Tarrieu continued the menacing start from Martinique with an attempt in the 11th that went just wide of the mark.

Nicaragua’s Nuria Marquez dribbled into the box in the 28th, but her final touch was deflected by the outstretched leg of Emmeline Mainguy.

Ludmila Gaydu pounced inside the box for the opening goal in the 43rd, taking advantage of Gutierrez diving to punch away another attempt a few seconds prior.

Salomon continued to threaten with attempts on goal and service to her teammates, with a 68th-minute attempt from distance that went just wide.

Nicaragua never gave up searching for the equaliser as Niurka Molina had opportunities on goal in the 87th and 90th, but Mainguy maintained the clean sheet.

The October window of League A of the 2023-24 Concacaf Nations League is complete. Many players delivered top performances over the course of the matches, yet these 11 players stood out the most at their respective positions.

 

Goalkeeper

Yannis Clementia, Martinique

Clementia was the only goalkeeper to register back-to-back clean sheets in the window, as he made six saves and three clearances in the two games for Les Matinino.

Defenders

Leo Abena, Suriname

Abena did the job at both ends. He scored in the 4-0 win versus Grenada and had five steals and six clearances over the two games.

Jonathan Rivierez, Martinique

Rivierez was another reason why Martinique did not concede a goal during the window in their two matches. He had a jaw-dropping 14 clearances on top of four steals.

Denil Maldonado, Honduras

Honduras were desperate for an early goal to quell any nerves in their finale against Cuba, and Maldonado came through with a score in the early going. He also had a steal, two clearances and completed 94 percent of his passes.

Alvin Jones, Trinidad and Tobago

Jones has been excellent for the Soca Warriors in helping them finish in the top two in Group A, as he added another goal to his tally and made seven clearances.

Midfielders

Adalberto Carrasquilla, Panama

Carrasquilla continues to show why he is one of the best players in the Concacaf region. He had the opening goal in the 3-0 win versus Guatemala and completed 87 percent of his passes during the window.

Reon Moore, Trinidad and Tobago

Moore seemingly covered every blade of grass for Trinidad and Tobago, scoring two goals and completing 91 percent of his passes.

Luis Palma, Honduras

Palma kept opposing defenders on their toes with a team-leading 11 shots during the two games. He also had an assist in the decisive 4-0 win against Cuba.

Forwards

Edgar Barcenas, Panama

Barcenas delivered the opening goal for Panama in their 2-1 win at Curacao and added an assist and three steals for good measure in the Canaleros’ two matches.

Rangelo Janga, Curacao

Janga was superb for Curacao in October, as he accounted for three of the team’s six goals, including a brace in the 5-3 victory over Trinidad and Tobago. He also completed 100 percent of his passes. 

Demarai Gray, Jamaica

Gray showed his class in Jamaica’s two victories, scoring a goal in each game from five shots and completing 89 percent of his passes.

Llori Sharpe, the lone Jamaican cyclist that journeyed to the Caribbean Road Cycling Championships, had much to celebrate as she returned to the island with a silver medal for her efforts.

Sharpe contested the 20km individual Time Trial, as well as the 70km at the two-day Championships in Guadeloupe where she placed sixth and second respectively.

Through an extremely hilly terrain, and the mid-afternoon temperatures, Sharpe was able to take advantage of the climbs and led a breakaway away from the pack halfway through lap number two. She was joined by one of the four home cyclists in the race and cyclist from Martinique.

The three held the pace for 5km, after which the Martinique cyclist was left behind. Both Sharpe and Clemence Briche from Guadeloupe kept widening the gap from the chasing pack from an initial 45 seconds to 90 seconds.

At the end of the three-lap event, both cyclists were comfortably ahead by 4 minutes. Sharpe completed the 70 km in 2 hours 8 minutes and 29.66 seconds, for the silver medal, just under 5 seconds behind Guadeloupe’s Briche, who won in 2 hours 8 minutes 23.89 seconds. Martinique’s Kellieanne Julus was next in 2 hours 12 minutes 42 seconds to complete the top three.

Though no Jamaican males participated in the championships, from a field of 50 male cyclists at the start of the six-lap 140km road race only 19 finished. Some faded from exhaustion, while others were pulled after being lapped.

The Jamaica Cycling Federation said it intended to have more cyclists participate at the event. However, the logistics and visa requirements for travel to Guadeloupe made things difficult.

The group stage of League A of the 2023-24 Concacaf Nations League came to a thrilling conclusion on Tuesday night, with Panama and Trinidad and Tobago emerging as the top two sides in Group A to qualify for next month’s quarterfinals.

Panama topped the group with 10 points, one point ahead of Trinidad and Tobago, who ended with nine points.

Panama vs. Guatemala

Panama enjoyed a commanding 3-0 victory over Central American rivals Guatemala at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City.

Adalberto Carrasquilla has been one of the best players in the Concacaf region in 2023 and he showed why again by scoring Panama’s opener in the 14th when an initial clearance from the Guatemala defense fell right to the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup Best Player Award winner, who volleyed into net for a 1-0 lead.

Panama kept pushing and a pivotal moment came in the initial moments of the second half when a fantastic first touch allowed Cristian Martinez to get past Guatemala’s Nicolas Samayoa in the area, with Martinez then getting fouled. 

A penalty was whistled, and a red card was issued to Samayoa, followed by Eric Davis converting the spot kick in the 48th for a 2-0 lead and a man advantage for almost the entire second half. 

Panama’s dream night was then capped in the 90th when Abdiel Ayarza guided a header past Guatemala goalkeeper Nicholas Hagen to seal the win.

El Salvador vs. Martinique

Martinique came up just shy in their bid for a quarterfinal spot in a 0-0 draw with El Salvador at the Estadio Nacional Jorge Magico Gonzalez in San Salvador.

Martinique finish in third place with seven points, while El Salvador earned their first point of the campaign.

Martinique had some good looks early and almost forced an own goal in the 24th when a back pass forced El Salvador goalkeeper Tomas Romero into a stretch save to prevent the opener.

El Salvador started to find their footing toward the end of the half and Mayer Gil’s strong shot was saved by Martinique goalkeeper Yannis Clementia right before halftime.

The second half saw El Salvador create two good scoring chances. The first fell for Leonardo Menjivar, who ended up missing over the crossbar at the far post in the 66th with the goalmouth open, followed by a Brayan Gil header in second half stoppage time that was saved by Clementia.

Martinique would muster the final chance of the night, as Crifar Mael’s effort in the waning seconds was saved nicely by Romero, who ensured the points were shared.

Curacao vs. Trinidad and Tobago

Curacao earned their first win of the group stage in impressive fashion with a 5-3 triumph over Trinidad and Tobago at the Ergilio Hato Stadium in Willemstad.

It was an ideal start for Curacao, who took a 1-0 lead in the seventh when a long ball was played up to Rangelo Janga and the experienced striker finished with aplomb past Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Denzil Smith.

Curacao were hungry for more and they doubled the lead in the 12th when Kenji Gorre found Godfried Roemeratoe, who fired into net past Smith.

The Curacao attack was unyielding and a hard run from Gorre in the 54th ended in a foul in the Trinidad and Tobago area and a penalty kick. Gorre stepped up and easily converted from the spot, extending the Curacao advantage to 3-0.

Trinidad and Tobago were finally able to pull back a goal in the 68th as Ryan Telfer found Reon Moore with a cross from the right wing and Moore finished.

That goal shifted the momentum in Trinidad and Tobago’s and they further reduced the deficit in the 74th when a rebound fell for Kristian Lee-Him to latch onto and fire into goal.

Curacao had a golden opportunity to restore a two-goal advantage from the penalty spot in the 75th after a Trinidad and Tobago handball, only to see Smith save Brandley Kuwas’ penalty.

But three minutes later it was 4-2 via the penalty spot after a foul in the area. This time Juninho Bacuna stroked it into net for Curacao.

Curacao’s three-goal lead was then restored in the 81st when Roshon Van Eijma’s header hit the crossbar, but Janga was there to head in the rebound to make it 5-2.

Their chances at winning the group were fading away, but Trinidad and Tobago wanted to make sure they held onto the second spot, and they made it a 5-3 final scoreline in the 86th when a free kick was played in front of the Curacao goal and Kareem Moses poked home the loose ball.

High-flying Trinidad and Tobago are expected to seal a first-ever appearance in the Concacaf Nations League quarterfinals on Tuesday, when they square off against Curacao in League A action at the Ergilio Hato Stadium in Curacao.

The Soca Warriors who have been in impressive form in Group A, currently sit atop the standings with maximum nine points from three games, and they are heavily favoured to make it four-from-four against their pointless host. It would also be a significant confidence booster for Angus Eve's side heading into the business end of the tournament.

With the top two teams in the group guaranteed a quarter-final berth from where they could possibly secure a place in the 2024 Copa America, today is the decisive day for Panama (seven points), Martinique (six points) and Guatemala (four points), who are all in contention. Curacao and El Salvador are both yet to register a point and have already been relegated to League B of next year's Nations League.

Fresh off a gutsy come-from-behind 3-2 win over Guatemala on Friday, the Soca Warriors will be brimming with confidence that much like they did with a 1-0 win over Curacao to start the Nations League campaign, they can repeat of even better that performance to end on a high.

Though they only need a point to be safe, midfielder Neveal Hackshaw said their mindset remains the same with a victory being their priority, as the aim is to top the group.

"They (Curacao) will come with everything, but they don't know what we are coming with. They say we need a point, but we are not coming for a point – we are coming for three points," Hackshaw said in an interview with TTFA media.

"That's what we want, that's what we been working for. No one believed we would be in this position, but we came into the group and showed them wrong. We showed we are a fighting team, and everything is possible," he added.

He called on his team-mates to stay grounded and "trust coach [Angus Eve's] decisions and whatever tactics he brings."

Reflecting on the Guatemala comeback, the Oakland Roots SC player said they got the job done by being united.

"We never argued with each other – we fought (for T&T) with each other. If somebody make a mistake, we bring them up and not push them down. That's leadership from everyone. It wasn't just a senior thing," Hackshaw noted.

Meanwhile, HFX Wanderers midfielder Andre Rampersad recalled their first meeting with Curacao and is hoping they can build on that with a statement performance.

"We want to maintain the unbeaten run, for sure. Four wins in a row, top the group, full points and make a statement," Rampersad declared.

"They (Curacao) were excellent keeping the ball in the first half (of the first game). But coming out in the second half we sorted it out, applied pressure and we were able to get the breakthrough goal in the end. It's going to be a physical battle, but I think we are going to come away with the victory," he said.

League A of the 2023-24 Concacaf Nations League continued on Friday with Panama, Martinique and Trinidad and Tobago all collecting pivotal wins.

Curacao vs. Panama

Things in Group A got started at the Ergilio Hato Stadium in Willemstad, Curacao where visitors Panama topped Curacao 2-1.

Panama is now in second place with seven points, while Curacao have officially been relegated to League B with their third defeat.

Edgar Barcenas of Panama opened the scoring in the 29th on a play that was crafted by midfielder Adalberto Carrasquilla, who lofted an inch-perfect pass to the running Cristian Martinez and the cutback pass hit Barcenas in stride, making for an easy sweep into net.

Panama doubled their advantage in the second half in the 77th through Jose Rodriguez, who expertly headed in a cross from Barcenas.

Curacao would get on the scoreboard in the waning moments of second half stoppage time, with Rangelo Janga executing a tidy header of his own.

Martinique vs. El Salvador

Martinique made a strong move up the table thanks to a 1-0 victory over El Salvador at the Stade Municipal Pierre-Aliker in Fort-de-France.

Martinique now have six points and sit in third place, while El Salvador, by virtue of this, their third defeat, have officially been relegated to League B.

Just like they did in their Gold Cup group stage meeting over the summer, Martinique struck first in the first half and took a 1-0 lead in the 23rd.

It was a well-crafted goal from Les Matinino, who worked the ball up the field, switching sides before a cross from the right wing by Damien Dussaut hit the cutting Johnny Marajo, whose right-footed shot beat El Salvador goalkeeper Mario Gonzalez.

Martinique then had a great chance at doubling their lead in the 73rd when Brighton Labeau hauled in a pass deep in the area and used an exquisite first touch to have an open look at goal, only to see his shot sail wide.

El Salvador had one final chance in second stoppage time through Mayer Gil, but his shot rang off the post and rolled wide in front of goal, still three points were safe for Martinique.

Trinidad and Tobago vs. Guatemala

The day in Group A then concluded with a dramatic 3-2 comeback victory for Trinidad and Tobago against Guatemala at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.

Trinidad and Tobago remain atop the group with nine points, while Guatemala remain in fourth place with four points.

It was a dream start for Guatemala, as Rubio Rubin struck for the opener in the 12th by touching home a shot right in front of goal off a pass from Nathaniel Mendez.

Guatemala doubled their lead in the 32nd when an initial attempt from Oscar Santis was blocked by a defender, but Santis’ follow-up attempt was smashed off the post and in for the goal.

But Trinidad and Tobago responded well and pulled back to within a goal at 2-1 in the 35th when Alvin Jones converted a penalty after Noah Powder had been fouled in the area.

Trinidad and Tobago kept the pressure on and were back on level terms in the 54th when a Neveal Hackshaw header was saved by Guatemala goalkeeper Nicholas Hagen, but Reon Moore was there to hammer home the rebound.

Play remained wide open going into the final half-hour, with Guatemala nearly retaking a lead in the 70th on a Jose Pinto header that hit the crossbar and dropped onto the goal-line before being cleared.

The final says, though, belonged to Trinidad and Tobago, as Nathaniel James, who came off the bench to score a late winner on matchday one against Curacao, did it again, this time firing in a free kick in the 89th to deliver the telling blow.

While on paper it seems Jamaica has drawn perceived lesser opponents for the Concacaf Men’s Under-20 qualifiers, assistant coach John Wall insists that the young Reggae Boyz will not be grandstanding against anyone, as the main aim beyond qualification is to improve the quality of their play.

In fact, Wall is aware that teams such as Bermuda, Grenada and Martinique, who they will rub shoulders with in Group F, have all been on the upgrade which means the perception of easy games is now a thing of the past.

The 27-team tournament scheduled for February 23 to March 2, will be contested in six groups across five venues in Central America and the Caribbean.

After round-robin play, the group winners will progress to the 2024 Concacaf Men's Under-20 Championship, joining the six top-ranked nations –United States, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica and Dominican Republic.

With this in mind, Wall pointed to the importance of ensuring the young Reggae Boyz are well prepared to give of their best.

"Obviously there is no simple game in Concacaf, I have learnt that firsthand and bearing in mind also that the trend overall in Concacaf is that the game has become more global, especially where the Diaspora comes in. So, Martinique when it comes to relationship with France and obviously Bermuda and Grenada with the United Kingdom predominantly.

“For us it is kind of a bigger scope, and we take it really seriously. We have been having camps from earlier this year and we are watching the players and identifying them as we go on. For me, it is really important to look at the next generation and the style of how Jamaica plays on a general basis,” Wall said.

“Also, qualifiers are a special kind of animal, you have to take certain things into account such as the number of games in a short space of time, you have players coming in as well as time zone differences. So, we are making all those external factors more internal per se and control the variables as much as we can,” he added.

Wall explained that his course of action has already be set in motion to identify character strengths he wants the young Reggae Boyz to exemplify and create an identity through purposeful planning.

“I have sent my preferred plan to the head of the Technical Committee because for us, it is obviously optimizing the time that we have. So, we want to use this upcoming Fifa window, we want to use December and January. What was done in the past is that players spent a lot of weeks in camps and accumulate too much fatigue heading into a tournament,” Wall reasoned.

“So, the good thing about what we are doing now by having these short camps since March is that it actually gives players time to adapt to the messaging and what we want and how I feel that we need to train and what we need to be. So given time, we can do a lot of things together and I am really looking forward to it myself,” he noted.

That said, the tactician who also works alongside Heimir Hallgrimsson with the senior Reggae Boyz team, expressed delight with how they have incorporated young players into that setup.

“The proof of it is in what we have been doing with the first team with guys like Dexter Lembikisa, Karoy Anderson and Whisper [Dujuan Richards]. So, the process is there and the pathway for the younger players should be there, and we need to have a really inclusive environment,” he stated.

“Jamaica for me is bold and likes to take on challenges and if there is anything I can add, I hope that I can, but I want to see that sense of desperation and urgency when Jamaica is playing football,” Wall ended.

Group A -Cuba, Nicaragua, Belize, British Virgin Islands, and Anguilla
(Venue: Estadio Nacional, Managua)

Group B -El Salvador, Antigua and Barbuda, Suriname, Guyana, and Turks and Caicos Islands (Venue: ABFA Technical Centre, Piggotts)

Group C -Guatemala, Curacao, Aruba, Saint Martin, and Barbados
(Venue: Estadio Doroteo Guamuch Flores, Guatemala City)

Group D -Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica (Venue: Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain)

Group E -Haiti, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Cayman Islands
(SKNFA Technical Center, Basseterre)

Group F -Jamaica, Bermuda, Grenada, and Martinique (Venue: SKNFA Technical Center, Basseterre)

Young striker Shaniel Thomas registered a second hat-trick of the Concacaf Caribbean Cup, as he combined with Jalmaro Calvin to hand Jamaica's Cavalier FC a 5-2 win over host Golden Lion in their Group A curtain-call contest at the Stade Pierre-Aliker in Fort-de-France, Martinique, on Wednesday.

Thomas, who earlier in the tournament became the youngest and first player to score a hat-trick when he achieved the feat against Dominican Republic's Moca FC last month, again proved too good in the final third for his French-speaking rivals on this occasion, and now has a Caribbean Cup-leading seven goals in four games. His combination with Calvin also ensured the Rudolph Speid-coached side topped the group on their way to the semi-final.

Cavalier could not have asked for a better start, as they quickly grabbed a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute, when Calvin's cross from the right wing took a wicked deflection off the foot of Golden Lion's defender Marvin Bellance, leaving goalkeeper Alan Rose wrong-footed, as the ball rippled the net.

Calvin continued to be a nuisance on the right flank and made a big impact again in the 14th minute with a dashing run that ended with a strong right-footed finish for a 2-0 lead.

The nippy Calvin added another notch to his first half belt with an assist on a Thomas goal in the 34th. In that build up, Calvin shook markers on the right channel before cutting back to Thomas, who swept in a shot past Rose to put Cavalier 3-0 up.

Thomas was once again at the right place at the right time in the 37th when an under-hit back pass allowed him to swoop in and score for a 4-0 Cavalier lead.

The Calvin-Thomas combination continued to wreak havoc on Golden Lion, who had no response to their onslaught. Calvin again played provider for Thomas, who applied another powerful finish in first half stoppage time, to put the Jamaicans 5-0 up at the break.

Golden Lion came out with a renewed purpose on the resumption and pulled one back in the 51st minute, through a Thierry Catherine header.

They added another in the 71st, courtesy of Wilfrid Charloton’s finish inside the area, but in the end the spoils and first-place finish in the group belonged to Cavalier.

An epic showdown awaits in Group A of the 2023 Concacaf Caribbean Cup, as Trinidad and Tobago's Defence Force hosts Moca of the Dominican Republic in a winner-takes-all affair on at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, on Wednesday.

Moca go into the contest with the slight advantage, as they sit second in the group with six points, a single point ahead of Defence Force. The visitors from the Dominican Republic only require a draw to secure a semifinals berth, but a full three points could be enough to see them leap into first place, should currently leaders Cavalier falter in their visit to Golden Lion.

For Defence Force, the mission is straightforward; win and they are in. A full three points would guarantee a semifinals spot and could possibly be enough to win the group as well.

Moca have wins over Port of Spain (1-0) and Golden Lion (3-0) to put themselves in this position to advance, while Defence Force played to draws with Cavalier (1-1) and Port of Spain (1-1) and earned a victory over Golden Lion (1-0).

Defence Force will be turning to the likes of Reon Moore, Jamali Garcia and Christopher Biggette to get the job done. In the tournament, Moore has a pair of goals and an assist, while Garcia has been a tireless worker in midfield with 152 passes completed and eight ball recoveries.

Biggette has been solid in net, making 13 saves, 10 clearances and recording a clean sheet.

Moca will be out to have a strong start to nail down a positive result and the duo of Gustavo Ascona and Victor Sanchez can help get them there. Ascona has a goal from six shots taken, while Sanchez is coming off a brace against Golden Lion.

No doubt an exciting contest awaits between two sides with everything on the line.

Jamaica's Cavalier will have their sights set on a first-place finish in Group A of the 2023 Concacaf Caribbean Cup when they pay a visit to Martinique to take on Golden Lion at the Stade Pierre-Aliker in Fort-de-France, on Wednesday.

Cavalier, who currently occupies pole position in the group on seven points, one ahead of second-placed Moca of the Dominican Republic, and two in front of third-placed Defence Force from Trinidad and Tobago.

With Moca and Defence Force squaring off as well on Wednesday, Cavalier are assured of a top-two finish in the group and a place in the semifinals, but the Jamaican side will be keen to collect all three points and win the group.

After opening with a 1-1 draw at Defence Force, Cavalier rolled to victories in their next two games against Port of Spain (2-1) and Moca (3-0).

Leading the way has been Shaniel Thomas, who has four goals in the tournament, including a hat-trick against Moca, to lead the competition in scoring. Thomas has also drawn the most fouls for his side, with seven.

Jalmaro Calvin and Nicholas Hamilton have contributed to Cavalier’s attacking prowess as well, with Calvin scoring a goal and adding an assist and Hamilton with two assists.

Golden Lion will be trying to end their Caribbean Cup on a positive note, as they sit in fourth place in the group with three points, the lone win coming in a 3-2 final with Port of Spain.

As always, legendary Martinique striker Kevin Parsemain will be one for the Cavalier defense to watch. Parsemain has a goal and an assist in the tournament and has totaled 13 shots.

Marvin Bellance has enjoyed a good tournament with seven ball recoveries and Jordy Boriel is a striker also capable of finding the back of the net, having done so against Port of Spain.

 

As members of Trinidad and Tobago’s senior men's team head back to their respective clubs, they do so with the words of captain Aubrey David etched in their minds as they eye a quarter-final berth in the Concacaf Nations League.

David, who was named captain after the sudden retirement of Kevin Molino earlier this month, reminded the Soca Warriors that while they continue to revel in what was a massive achievement taking three points off El Salvador, the job to bring their Copa America vision to fruition is far from finish.

Trinidad and Tobago ended the recent window atop Group A in League A on maximum six points, following a 1-0 win over Curacao and an impressive come-from-behind 3-2 win over El Salvador in hostile territory. Panama (four points), Guatemala (four points) and Martinique (three points) are next, while Curacao and El Salvador are pointless in the six-team group.

Two more positive results against Guatemala and Curacao in October, would secure the twin island republic a top two finish, as well as a spot in the quarterfinals, from where they could secure qualification for next year’s Copa America tournament in the United States.

“All the noise that is going on outside we blocked it out and we believed in each other here. Maybe only us and our families believed in us and we made them proud and we made ourselves proud. It’s a big, big accomplishment and it has been a longtime coming,” David said after the win in Central America.

“Feel good about yourselves yes because it’s a big achievement, but when we go back to our clubs, let us take care of ourselves because we still have more to go,” he added.

David, 32, who plays professionally in Costa Rica and has over 70 international caps, pointed to the significance of not only building on the momentum from this window, but also guarding against complacency, especially with Panama and Guatemala both within striking distance.

"So, whether you are going to an international club or locally, let us take care of ourselves because we still have a good way to go. It is just a small hurdle we crossed (with the win against El Salvador) so feel good about it, but when you go back to your club, keep putting in the work because we have a job to finish,” he said in a heartfelt post-match team talk.

“It is only up from here and what it does is give us that confidence and belief that we belong. Again, I know some of you were getting your foot wet at this level, but you have a good base and experience to build on and when you come here and get this kind of victory, you don’t just go back and stay on the same level, you try to raise your game,” he reasoned.

Group A of League A of the 2023-24 Concacaf Nations League completed its September window on Sunday, with Trinidad and Tobago moving to the top of the group with their second win in two matches.

Martinique vs. Curacao

The day started off with Martinique edging Curacao 1-0 at the Stade Pierre-Aliker in Fort-de-France, Martinique.

An even first half gave way to a second half that started with a bang, as Martinique took a 1-0 lead in the 48’ when Brighton Labeau rose up above a pair of defenders and steered a header into net.

Martinique kept their foot on the gas in search of a second score and were awarded a penalty in the 62’ when Mickael Biron was fouled by Juninho Bacuna in the Curacao area. Biron stepped up to take the spot kick, but was denied on a soaring save from Curacao GK Trevor Doornbusch.

The game loosened up in the 67’ when both teams were reduced to 10 men, as captains Leandro Bacuna of Curacao and Martinique’s Daniel Herelle were sent off with straight red cards.

Minutes later Curacao were on the doorstep for an equalizer when a deflection fell to Kenji Gorre right in front of goal, but Gorre was unable to get a shot on target, with the ball caroming to Jearl Margaritha, who missed the follow-up completely.

Margaritha had one final crack in second half stoppage time, but the block was made from the Martinique defense to secure the three points.

Guatemala vs. Panama

In a duel of teams who left their mark on the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup, Guatemala and Panama played to an exciting 1-1 draw at the Estadio Doroteo Guamuch Flores in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

Gold Cup finalists Panama could not have asked for a better start, as they earned a penalty just over five minutes into the match when Jose Fajardo was taken down from behind in the Guatemalan area. Eric Davis stepped up and calmly stroked home a left-footed attempt into net for a 1-0 Panama lead.

Panama remained on the front foot as played drifted into the second half, but soon enough the Guatemala attack, just like it did in their Gold Cup quarterfinal run, came to life and they got their reward in the 71’ to pull level 1-1.

A foul on the left edge of the box resulted in a free kick, and Oscar Santis duly obliged by steering home a right-footed effort over the Panama wall and into net.

El Salvador vs. Trinidad and Tobago

The day wrapped up with Trinidad and Tobago rallying for a 3-2 victory over El Salvador at the Estadio Jorge Gonzalez in San Salvador.

El Salvador were aggressive from the start and grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 17’ when Dustin Corea played in a free kick that Eriq Zavaleta met with a perfectly placed header into net.

Trinidad and Tobago’s response was almost immediate, as Reon Moore played in a cross to Ryan Telfer from the left wing, and the first touch gave Telfer the time and space to fire into the net the 1-1 equalizer in the 22’.

Things were wide open to begin the second stanza and Trinidad and Tobago made the most of it, taking a 2-1 lead in the 51’ through Malcolm Shaw, who converted a penalty after being fouled in the box by Zavaleta.

Right back came El Salvador to pull even 2-2 in the 53’ courtesy of Brayan Gil, whose nodded header off a corner kick deflected right back to him, allowing him to guide a shot into net.

Back and forth the teams went with each looking for a winning score. That precious third goal would fall for the visiting Soca Warriors, as a falling away Justin Garcia managed to pop a header over El Salvador GK Tomas Romero in the 72’ to make it 3-2.

El Salvador pushed hard for a third to get a point, but Trinidad and Tobago GK Denzil Smith was excellent in net and made the saves to lock down the three points.

Trinidad and Tobago, Panama and Guatemala all emerged with home victories to kick start League A of the 2023-24 Concacaf Nations League on Thursday.

The day started with Trinidad and Tobago edging Curacao 1-0 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.

Curacao created majority of the scoring chances in the first half but overall, the finishing of the two sides was off target, leaving things scoreless going into intermission.

Trinidad and Tobago started to take control in the second half, creeping closer to goal, including a Reon Moore shot that flashed just wide in the 74th minute.

The decisive score came in the 87th and it was from 19-year-old debutante Nathaniel James, who took a nodded down header from Ryan Telfer and cranked a shot into net for his first Soca Warriors goal.

There was still work to do, though, to secure the three points and goalkeeper Denzil Smith made sure of it, making a one-on-one save against Curacao’s Jearl Margaritha in the 90th to nail down the win.

Panama started with a 3-0 win over Martinique at the Estadio Universidad Latina in Penonome.

It was an ideal start for the Canaleros, as Jose Fajardo made it 1-0 in the 9th when he finished off an inch-perfect pass from 2023 Gold Cup Best Player Award winner Adalberto Carrasquilla.

Panama remained on the front foot but would have to wait until the early stages of the second half to extend their advantage to 2-0. Ismael Diaz struck in the 47th thanks to a cross from the right wing from Eduardo Guerrero, allowing Diaz to nod home a header.

Martinique looked to pull a goal back and almost did so in the 86th when a superb backheeled pass set up Mickael Biron with a golden opportunity, but the shot-stopping ability of Panama's goalkeeper Cesar Samudio proved pivotal.

Cecilio Waterman then put the finishing touch on the Panama win with a strike in the final seconds of stoppage time.

Rounding out the day was an all-Central American contest between Guatemala and El Salvador at the Estadio Doroteo Guamuch Flores in Guatemala City, Guatemala, where the home side secured a 2-0 triumph.

It was all Guatemala at the start and after Nathaniel Mendez fired over the crossbar in the 7th, Carlos Mejia opened the scoring in the 15th by heading in a chip from Alejandro Galindo, making it 1-0 to Guatemala.

Mendez was then clipped in the El Salvador area in the 28th, leading to a penalty for the hosts, but Rubio Rubin’s effort was swallowed up by El Salvador's custodian Tomas Romero.

The spot kick save sparked the El Salvador attack and they nearly evened things up when Amando Moreno went just wide in 44th with an effort.

Guatemala reasserted their authority to start the second half and Mejia was a whisker away from a second but was unable to connect on a cross with the goal gaping wide open for him.

Guatemala kept pressing and the big insurance goal came in the 78th on a hammered left-footed shot from substitute Pedro Altan, doubling the lead and wrapping up the three points.

Barbados defeated Bahamas 3-1 (25-23, 25-16, 23-25, 25-22) to book their spot in the men’s final of the 2023 CAZOVA Volleyball Championships in Suriname on Friday. They will face either hosts or Trinidad and Tobago.

Barbados was incredibly dominant in the semi-finals at the Anthony Nesty Sport Hall only giving up one set to The Bahamas on their way their 14th appearance in a CAZOVA final. Team captain and outside hitter Oxley led Barbados with 22 points.

Barbados coach Elwyn Oxley was full of praise for his team, stating“All the credit are going to the players. The have fought all through this tournament. Especially those young players we have coming up doing great stuff out on the court. Let’s see who will we meet in the final on Sunday.”

Meanwhile, Jamaica ended the Men’s Championship in fifth place after defeating Martinique 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-21).

Friday’s victory over Martinique was bitter-sweet for Jamaica’s coach Gatasheu Bonner.

“Yesterday (Thursday) was a disappointing match for us. We didn’t get the result we wanted but it pressed us to come back today to show energy and life, which is a great opportunity for this group,” he said.

“We try to teach our team that every game matters and tomorrow hopefully we’ll show up to be the team we want to be. This tournament will be a lesson to move forward with volleyball in Jamaica.”

Losing coach Eddy Erialc said his team’s performance was disappointing, saying, “We didn’t show up today. It is like we couldn’t make any good points in the attack. We will evaluate and do things for developing the game in our country.”

In the men’s quarter-final Thursday defending champions Suriname had beaten Jamaica’s men 3-2 (23-25, 25-20, 20-25, 28-26, 15-9) in a thriller at the Anthony Nesty Sports Hall in Paramaribo.  

Jamaica dominated the opening set but Suriname fought back to win the second set in the contest between the evenly-matched teams. However, Suriname took control of the final set to book their spot in the semi-final.

 Zefanio Breinburg led Suriname’s scoring with 21 points and got backing from outside hitter and team captain Keven Sporkslede with 16 points. Outside hitter David Pinas was a key player in the final set with 11 points.

For Jamaica, Owayne Lawrence had a game high 21 points and outside hitter Ryck Webb contributed with 17 points.  

 

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